Tag Archives: Anne A. Dawson

January 21 2018 – Letters to an Archbishop

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Thursday February 1 2018 – Church House Westminster

Dear Archbishop,
I feel impelled to write to you regarding your response today to the letter from my academic colleagues on the matter of Bishop George Bell. Your letter to them is sadly lacking in coherence, not least in its linking of the accusation made against Bishop Bell and the case of Bishop Peter Ball. Peter Ball was found guilty by the due processes of law. Lord Carlile’s report makes it perfectly clear that such processes would be utterly unable to bring any case against Bishop Bell. It was not Lord Carlile’s brief to state whether Bishop Bell was innocent or guilty. His task was different from that.
You seem unable to distinguish such difference or to sustain a coherent argument.  I quite understand the responsibilities that you bear, but the result of your incoherent thinking is that you continue to place an individual who cannot defend himself in a dark place without any clear evidence. This is intolerable. I have been an ordained Anglican priest for forty years and in my retirement from academic life I am privileged to hold pastoral responsibility for a small church in the diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. I am simply appalled that I can no longer trust the spiritual or intellectual leadership of one who bears the highest office in the Anglican Communion.
Yours is sincerely,
The Revd Canon Professor David Jasper MA. BD. PhD. DD. DTeol. FRSE. FRSA.
Scotland
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Dear Archbishop

The accusations made against Bishop George Bell of Chichester have now been in the news in England for some time. In a letter published today seven leading academic historians have asserted that the Archbishop of Canterbury has shamed his office with “irresponsible and dangerous” claims that Bishop Bell may have been a paedophile – claims made after an independent review by Lord Carlile of Berriew clearly and in great detail indicated that there is no credible evidence to allow such accusations against Bishop Bell to stand. In spite of this, the Archbishop, the Most Revd. Justin Welby, has said that a “significant cloud is left over his name.”

George Bell, who died in 1958, was one of the most revered Anglican leaders of the twentieth century, a man of outstanding courage in his fight against tyranny in Hitler’s Germany, of whom it was said by one of clergy in his diocese of Chichester, he “loved and cared for his own large diocese with a pastoral zeal which is an inspiration to all his dearly beloved brethren and children in Jesus Christ.” It is now very clear that no case that bears any critical scrutiny has been found against Bishop Bell and yet the Archbishop continues, in his statement of 15th December 2017, to suggest that guilt remains in the “significant cloud” which he insists still hangs over him.

We, as academics and members of the Scottish Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion of which Bell was such a distinguished light, deplore the failure of Archbishop Welby to withdraw his statements about Bishop Bell and fear for the considerable damage which this failure is inflicting upon the Church of which he is called, by his office, to be the guardian. This is more than simply a matter of misjudgment, but a failure, for whatever reason, to maintain the pastoral duties of the Archbishop’s office, such duties as Bell himself faithfully sustained in the diocese of Chichester.

We therefore ask Archbishop Welby clearly to repudiate what he has said concerning Bishop Bell and restore to his office in Canterbury the respect and dignity which it properly holds in our society.

Yours sincerely

The Revd Canon Professor David Jasper DD FRSE

Professor Canon Ann Loades CBE

 

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21 Jan ’18

The Most Rev The Lord Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear Archbishop.

I would far rather be writing to support you than attacking you, but sadly your attitude in persisting that there is still ‘a significant cloud’ over Bishop George Bell is so inexplicable that I am persuaded to send you a copy of an unpublished letter I wrote to The Chichester Observer.

At a local level I have made it known to Dean & Chapter that the £50 thousand that I had left to Chichester Cathedral, will not be forthcoming until a building, now known as 4 Canon Lane, has it’s name restored to George Bell House .

It is the hope of many of us, upset by your the denial of natural justice to a highly respected Bishop, who had been dead for half a century & was unrepresented, that you will appreciate how your own position will be in jeopardy if you fail to recognise that in the light of Lord Carlile’s Report, there can be no justification for perpetuating the paedophile myth.

Yours regretfully

Christopher Hoare.

 

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Dear Archbishop,

I write about your statement in response to Lord Carlile’s report.

Surely you are wrong to treat transparency as an absolute value that overrides all other considerations. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a higher value and in this case transparency caused great harm to the reputation an innocent person. That is wrong.

To refer implicitly as you do to evil actions by Bishop George Bell, when an objective investigation has concluded that there is no dependable evidence of the evil, was in my view a wicked act of defamation.

Yours sincerely,

Vasantha Gnanadoss

Member of General Synod 1990 – 2015

 

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Dear Archbishop,

I am extremely disappointed by your statement following Lord Carlile’s report. Your words have left a cloud over the reputation of Bishop George Bell which Lord Carlile shows to be completely unjustified. I urge you to withdraw those remarks in order to restore Bishop Bell’s reputation.

 The Revd Dr Alan Gadd

 

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The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU

16th January 2018

Your Grace

I am writing to you to earnestly consider the negative impact of your statement dated 15.12.2017 in response to the Independent Review by Lord Carlile of Berriew, regarding allegations against Bishop George Bell.

My concern is that the conclusion implied in your statement appears that Bishop Bell was a paedophile. The purpose of Lord Carlile’s report was to review procedures without prejudice. However, the message received by the public appears to be condemnation of Bishop Bell. Implying the guilt of Bishop Bell should have been left out of your statement.

You chose to use your statement to announce publicly that ‘a significant cloud is left over Bishop Bell’s name’ I respectfully urge you to reflect on the following,

  • The claimant’s own recollections as appearing in Lord Carlile’s Review.
  • The psychology in defence of Bishop Bell. Either he was a most devious paedophile, who negated all that he believed in whilst abusing a child, or he was a man whose Christian values were evidenced throughout his life by all who encountered him.

First, I wish to refer to the claimant’s reported words of Bishop Bell. I work in primary school, with children the same age as the claimant at the time of the alleged abuse. In my experience as a child therapist, the accurate recall of words spoken to children of 5 to 9 years is unreliable. As Professor Maden points out in his report, memory is not fixed and shifts over time. The memory substitutes words that fulfil the emotional recall, rather than the actual words. There were forty plus years between the alleged words spoken and the words reported. I feel there is reason to be cautious over the alleged words. The words themselves are lost over many decades. The emotional trauma is what is recalled. In processing trauma, memories subconsciously adjust to fit the adult interpretation of experience. This does not mean that the claimant is intentionally lying, but neither does it mean it is accurate.

Again with reference to Professor’s Maden’s report, his expert opinion is that. ’Nevertheless it remains my view that the possibility of false memories in this case cannot be excluded.’

It is important to distinguish between believing the claimant was abused and also having memory distortion. Professor Maden’s professional opinion does not attribute the alleged abuse to Bishop Bell. This opens up the possibility that there was some other unknown perpetrator, who has been wrongly identified as the Bishop.

In defence of George Bell, there is plenty of historical evidence of his actions and behaviour in his role as Bishop of Chichester, recorded at the time, without lapse of decades before it was examined. I believe Bishop Bell’s exceptional character evolved from his involvement in the events unfolding in Europe in the 1930’s and 40s as regards the rise of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. His personality is so vastly at odds with that of child abuser, that from a psychological point of view, it must be called into question.

It seems vastly problematic that Bishop Bell would risk acting in such a self-destructive way, which would totally annihilate the authenticity of his life work. I would ask you to reflect on the likelihood that Bishop Bell was a child abuser, whilst simultaneously engaging in post war reconciliation. Do you really believe that behaviour displaying moral disintegration, whilst acting with absolute spiritual integrity is possible, without mental breakdown?

If you agree this, then Bishop Bell was the most ‘accomplished’ child abuser in history.

The Core Group were unable to employ Professor Maden’s forensic skill to examine Bishop Bell’s state of mind, so there is no parity of process. However the Core Group failed to research historical sources, as well as failing to contact those still living, who knew Bishop Bell personally, but were not approached before the financial settlement.

Finally I refer to point 282 of Lord Carlile’s Review. The world at large would not have recognised that the Church had not found Bishop Bell guilty.

Point 282 refers to the explanation given to the claimant that the Church did not find Bishop Bell guilty. If it was said clearly to the claimant, it is now all the more your responsibility to explain to ‘the world at large’ the Church has not found Bishop Bell guilty.

I therefore respectfully and urgently request you to reconsider the words of your statement, in particular:

We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”

I also attach a copy of my letter published in the Chichester Observer. I acknowledge my tone is shock and real distress caused by the words of your statement. I pray for a way forward to reconcile all parties and make restoration for damage caused to the reputation of Bishop Bell, so he regains his legacy as an inspirational figure of Christian courage for the current and future generations

Yours sincerely,

Anne A Dawson

School Pastoral Worker, Brent

 

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Dear Archbishop,

It is a great shame that you were not present at the talk that an old and frail Bishop Peter Walker gave in Chichester cathedral some years ago as part of the commemorative celebrations of the late Bishop Bell’s life and work.
He spoke with such genuine warmth and admiration for his guide and mentor and his joy at being ordained by Bishop Bell that it made an indelible impression on me.
When Archbishop Rowan Williams came down to preach the closing sermon of these celebrations I had the opportunity to mention the deep impression this talk had made on me and particularly the mention of his ordination by Bishop Bell. In reply the Archbishop gave me the most wonderful smile and said: “And I was ordained by Peter Walker.” We both seemed to sense this link was something very special.

I feel sure that Bishop Bell was a man great enough to find forgiveness for the church’s clumsy handling of this whole affair and their continuing refusal to admit the mistakes they made. Whether lesser mortals like myself and the congregation of the cathedral are able to forgive and forget is a different matter, I regret to say. I would urge you to build bridges as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Yvonne Graham

 

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Dear Archbishop Justin,

I am appalled to read that, despite the findings of the Carlile report that there is no evidence to corroborate ‘Carol’s’ claim of sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell and that on the contrary there is overwhelming evidence of his innocence, you continue to refuse to rescind your statement that there is still a ‘significant cloud’ over his name.

I believe that the ‘significant cloud’ hangs over your own name, not his.  You are in contravention of the law of this land, that states there is a presumption of innocence in all cases until guilt is proven – which Lord Carlile has demonstrated has not happened and cannot happen here.  And as the senior member of the House of Bishops, your continued attempt to smear the name of the late Bishop Bell is doubly hypocritical, since the adoption of the policy of that House in May 2017 with reference to abuse cases specifically states that those accused shall be regarded as innocent until proven guilty.

You are also breaking God’s commandment against bearing false witness.  This means more than spreading malicious gossip or telling falsehoods.  It means doing nothing to counter false rumours or to protect those who may be damaged by them.

The fact that you have not responded personally to any of the many letters so far sent by individuals, groups, professional organisations or those in positions of authority within the Church itself indicates that you are fully aware that your accusations are groundless.  You have no case to present to the world against George Bell.

I pray that you will immediately see fit to rescind your statement, made on 15 December 2017 on the publication of the Carlile report, that you will apologise in person to the family of George Bell, and that you will take steps toward the restoration of Bishop Bell’s good name at the earliest opportunity.   Failure to do so can only result in further damage to the Church and to your own reputation.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson

Sheffield

 

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From Anne A. Dawson

Dear Editor

I am writing in support of the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference next month – at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1 – which I am sadly unable to attend. This is important to me because it restores my faith in humanity there are other people sharing views compatible to mine.
I felt devastated by the bleakness of the statement of our spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in response to the Independent Review by Lord Carlile 15.12.2017, because I feel it expresses cynicism and self-interest, especially the Archbishop’s words about Bishop Bell:
“We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”
My trust in the hierarchy of the Church of England has been shattered. I won’t leave the Church because of this, but basically the statement is tragic because of its implications.
Why is there a cloud over Bishop Bell’s name?
My response is because the Archbishop intends perpetuating ambiguity.
I would challenge the relevance in the context of this statement: “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”.
 
Why is the Archbishop saying this, if not to convey insidious undertones of an implied guilty verdict? The Archbishop had an opportunity to clearly refer to the UDHR, Articles 10 and 11. I feel he has let down the Church of England, as its leading spokesperson.
I am not an expert in law or theology. My interest in this issue is because my work in a pastoral role at primary school includes safeguarding procedures. In my opinion, Lord Carlile’s report was balanced and rational. It avoided preference or prejudice, unlike the Archbishop’s statement which conveyed both.
To me ethics are of utmost importance, because we are educating the next generation to be morally responsible as individuals and as world citizens.
Every child has a sense of natural justice. ‘It’s not fair’ is one of the first and most repeated phrases from Reception Year upwards. In playground disputes we always follow procedures based on conflict resolution. First one child speaks, while the other listens, then vice-versa. With an adult monitoring, most often the outcome is reconciliation.
However, how can I encourage children to respect a man of great responsibility like the Archbishop, when he dismisses the need for a fair hearing of the other?
The school where I work is predominantly non-Christian, with a very diverse spread of backgrounds and nationalities. My sadness is that the Christian faith is being destroyed within by its own leaders, when they recklessly demolish the reputation of one of its greatest representatives.
I am really distressed by this, as children have more choices than ever about what they choose to believe and the inspiration for their internal value system, but the consequences of weak moral leadership from the Anglican Church will not inspire any young person.
The Archbishop has weakened the Church of England by the defamation of Bishop Bell. The long term result is a church broken from within, which does not attract new faith in young people.
A strong church for the younger generation is needed, which has the humility to concede it is sometimes wrong and mismanages its procedures. The Archbishop has lacked the courage to do this, by continuing to deflect guilt onto Bishop Bell. That is why I feel his Statement was self-serving and cynical by the statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones , nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”. This comment is made in the context of Bishop Bell’s life, marked throughout with adherence to Christ-centred behaviour in war-divided Europe and beyond. This reference to “evil acts” are totally without evidence, and neither necessary or appropriate to the statement.
To misquote Martin Luther King Jr, 28.8.1963 “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the allegations, but by the content of their character”.
I want to live out my Christian values towards others, based on informed and thoughtful reflection rather than prejudice. I own my anger towards the Archbishop, prompted by shock that he was so intentionally ambivalent towards Bishop Bell in his statement.
I continue to learn through this situation about the theory of personality and what integrity really is. I will continue to invest time and consideration into challenging the Archbishop’s statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”, especially in the context of Bishop Bell.
This letter is underpinned by my sincere desire to look towards the well-being of children. My work requires robust safeguarding in school and in all spheres of life.
In an attempt to over-compensate for past indifference to allegations of child abuse within the church, the leadership projected blame onto a dead man to absorb the ill will. By implying the guilt of Bishop Bell in the above comments in his statement, the Archbishop increases mistrust in safeguarding procedure rather than respecting Lord Carlile’s conclusions.
This does not offer any assurance that future allegations will be properly addressed. I feel compassion for those who have been deeply hurt by words of injustice towards Bishop Bell, who has no opportunity for a fair public hearing.
I hope for a positive outcome at the Rebuilding Bridges event on Ist February, and pray that it brings reconciliation and the restoration of Bishop Bell’s good name.
Yours sincerely
ANNE A. DAWSON
Northolt

January 9 2018 – Letter from Anne A. Dawson of Northolt

Dear Editor
I am writing in support of the ‘Rebuilding Bridges’ Morning Conference next month – at Church House Westminster on Thursday February 1 – which I am sadly unable to attend. This is important to me because it restores my faith in humanity there are other people sharing views compatible to mine.
I felt devastated by the bleakness of the statement of our spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in response to the Independent Review by Lord Carlile 15.12.2017, because I feel it expresses cynicism and self-interest, especially the Archbishop’s words about Bishop Bell:
“We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”
My trust in the hierarchy of the Church of England has been shattered. I won’t leave the Church because of this, but basically the statement is tragic because of its implications.
Why is there a cloud over Bishop Bell’s name?
My response is because the Archbishop intends perpetuating ambiguity.
I would challenge the relevance in the context of this statement: “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”.
 
Why is the Archbishop saying this, if not to convey insidious undertones of an implied guilty verdict? The Archbishop had an opportunity to clearly refer to the UDHR, Articles 10 and 11. I feel he has let down the Church of England, as its leading spokesperson.
I am not an expert in law or theology. My interest in this issue is because my work in a pastoral role at primary school includes safeguarding procedures. In my opinion, Lord Carlile’s report was balanced and rational. It avoided preference or prejudice, unlike the Archbishop’s statement which conveyed both.
To me ethics are of utmost importance, because we are educating the next generation to be morally responsible as individuals and as world citizens.
Every child has a sense of natural justice. ‘It’s not fair’ is one of the first and most repeated phrases from Reception Year upwards. In playground disputes we always follow procedures based on conflict resolution. First one child speaks, while the other listens, then vice-versa. With an adult monitoring, most often the outcome is reconciliation.
However, how can I encourage children to respect a man of great responsibility like the Archbishop, when he dismisses the need for a fair hearing of the other?
The school where I work is predominantly non-Christian, with a very diverse spread of backgrounds and nationalities. My sadness is that the Christian faith is being destroyed within by its own leaders, when they recklessly demolish the reputation of one of its greatest representatives.
I am really distressed by this, as children have more choices than ever about what they choose to believe and the inspiration for their internal value system, but the consequences of weak moral leadership from the Anglican Church will not inspire any young person.
The Archbishop has weakened the Church of England by the defamation of Bishop Bell. The long term result is a church broken from within, which does not attract new faith in young people.
A strong church for the younger generation is needed, which has the humility to concede it is sometimes wrong and mismanages its procedures. The Archbishop has lacked the courage to do this, by continuing to deflect guilt onto Bishop Bell. That is why I feel his Statement was self-serving and cynical by the statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones , nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”. This comment is made in the context of Bishop Bell’s life, marked throughout with adherence to Christ-centred behaviour in war-divided Europe and beyond. This reference to “evil acts” are totally without evidence, and neither necessary or appropriate to the statement.
To misquote Martin Luther King Jr, 28.8.1963 “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the allegations, but by the content of their character”.
I want to live out my Christian values towards others, based on informed and thoughtful reflection rather than prejudice. I own my anger towards the Archbishop, prompted by shock that he was so intentionally ambivalent towards Bishop Bell in his statement.
I continue to learn through this situation about the theory of personality and what integrity really is. I will continue to invest time and consideration into challenging the Archbishop’s statement “Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good”, especially in the context of Bishop Bell.
This letter is underpinned by my sincere desire to look towards the well-being of children. My work requires robust safeguarding in school and in all spheres of life.
In an attempt to over-compensate for past indifference to allegations of child abuse within the church, the leadership projected blame onto a dead man to absorb the ill will. By implying the guilt of Bishop Bell in the above comments in his statement, the Archbishop increases mistrust in safeguarding procedure rather than respecting Lord Carlile’s conclusions.
This does not offer any assurance that future allegations will be properly addressed. I feel compassion for those who have been deeply hurt by words of injustice towards Bishop Bell, who has no opportunity for a fair public hearing.
I hope for a positive outcome at the Rebuilding Bridges event on Ist February, and pray that it brings reconciliation and the restoration of Bishop Bell’s good name.
Yours sincerely
Anne A. Dawson
Northolt